The Metroid franchise is one that Nintendo doesn’t quite seem to understand. There is an incredible consistency of quality throughout the entire series, save for a small handful of games fans don’t want to talk about, but in terms of the mainline 2D series and the Prime trilogy, there’s a stellar presence that could honestly put Mario and Zelda to shame. Metroid is one of the black sheep franchises Nintendo has, and they have difficulty marketing each game with increasingly less than ideal sales since Prime 2, so they unfortunately have repeatedly had to put the franchise on the shelf for a while. Thankfully, in full force, Nintendo has a new Prime game on its way and now a new 2D entry to give the constantly salivating fanbase.
In an age where Final Fantasy’s success is hit or miss, one may wonder what franchise is going to truly lead the evolution of Japanese role-playing games? Persona 5, which is the fifth, sixth, and seventh Persona game, depending on who you ask, breaks away almost completely from the Megami Tensei parent series, and presents the player with what I can best describe as a Sly Cooper-esque RPG, crossed with Inception and previous Persona games’ fundamental mechanics. Persona 5’s identity is so fully realized that it’s still hard to believe it exists in the same realm as Persona 3 and four, let alone anything before those two. This feels like the game that JRPG fans have been waiting many years for. This game marks a turning point for its franchise, as it is now more publicly recognized than ever. Atlus gave this game their full attention, taking what was once a niche, budget sub-series of theirs into a full-blown, large scale and complex game, that feels like an incredibly high point of their development efforts thus far.
No matter how hard I try to stay away, I always find myself coming back to Square Enix’s crossover masterpiece, Kingdom Hearts II. Ever since the initial release, something about the game had always stuck with me, and I didn’t even finish it when I got it on launch day. It was not until Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days was released on the Nintendo DS in 2009 that I found myself getting back into the series and eventually beating II when revisiting it. It was during this playthrough towards the end of 2009 that I truly felt entranced by this series, however II was the most fun I had through all of it. Because of my newfound infatuation with the series, in the subsequent years to come I had found myself saving up for the various systems the handheld games were being released on. Hundreds and hundreds of dollars and gameplay hours later, I still side with II as the absolute best in the series, in my opinion.
From the very moment I began playing the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, I knew that I was in for something special. I have played and owned well over three hundred video games throughout my life, and I have never had as much consistent fun with a game as this one. The opening moments of the game are pure gold, with constant momentum of discovery throughout the title’s relatively long duration. One of the beautiful things about Breath of the Wild is that there is no particular correct way to go about playing the game; it drops you into Hyrule, and just says “Go.” The direction you take Link in is entirely up to you.
I haven’t played a game with a story that genuinely made me feel on the same emotional level as its main protagonist in a very long time, if ever. The mature Catherine, from Atlus’ renowned Persona team, had gripped me much more than I had expected it to. When I tell you everything about this game, you have to trust me when I say that as far-out and crazy as all of its ideas, every aspect of it fits together very well to make a cohesive and unique package that puzzle game fans and possibly RPG fans will find massively entertaining, at least their first time through.
As someone who hasn’t played more than a few handfuls of seriously lengthy console RPGs, I always found the beast that is the Shin Megami Tensei metaseries to be something of a daunting enigma that I had no desire to get sucked into. After many years of curiosity, though, and around the long-awaited release of Persona 5, I finally sat down to enjoy my unplayed copy of the much-revered PS2 role-playing game, Persona 4. In recent years, the Persona subseries has distanced itself from its parent quite a bit, earning name recognition without the SMT moniker, and that was most prevalent when Persona 4 released in 2008. In a lot of ways, P4 was the Final Fantasy VII of its series, and it (as well as its various spinoffs) has become a long-running moneymaker for Atlus. I have yet to play any other Persona games, but I can say for certain that it is in my future as of now.